Thursday, December 31, 2009

My Last Cup of Tea?

Time flies! It was exactly one year ago that I wrote my post "My Last Cup of Coffee".

I was then writing from the Coffee Bean at Wisma Merdeka late afternoon, waiting for my son to finish work. To refresh your memory, I wrote that I might well be having my last cup of coffee because I was supposed to avoid sugar. I can take tea without sugar but not coffee and hence the title of my post then.

Further, it (no more coffee/sugar) was supposed to be one of my New Year (2009) resolutions! Today is the last day of 2009, did I manage to keep my resolution? Your guess is as good as mine.

As I was saying, time flies and one year later here I am again today at the same Coffee Bean also late afternoon and also waiting for my son.

A friend passed by. He noticed that I was having tea. He asked me why not coffee, especially as it has been raining. So I explained to him about sugar. His reply: "But the acid-level of tea is high!".

So, can't take coffee and can't take tea! What am I supposed to take then? Follow my SDA friends (with due respect) who take Milo? Looks like plain water (air suam in Malay) is the best.

So my 2010 New Year resolution? You can take anything, as long as you do not overdo it! Moderation is the best policy.

Back to more serious business, as I was typing a few moments ago, I received my (Malaysian daily English newspaper) Star sms news alert. It says and I quote: " (Kuala Lumpur High Court declares that (Malaysian Catholic weekly newspaper) Herald can use the word Allah, it is not exclusive to Islam, declares Home Minister order as illegal, null and void." - 4.48pm Dec31.

Congratulations to Christians all over Malaysia over this 'victory'. What a good and happy start to the New Year 2010. Let us hope that the government would not appeal the High Court decison, in line with the 1Malaysia concept of Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak which says "People First, Performance Now".

Happy New Year 2010 to all my visitors. This year no pics of traffic situation around KK streets as my camera called it a day after serving me faithfully for a few years recently.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The late Moses Eclen Maah Ajuh singing

Recently I wrote that a friend sent me an e-mail showing the late Maah singing on Youtube.

The same friend taught me to embed the video in my post/blog. Thanks, Ben aka Pinolobo.

By the way, I forgot to mention that the late Maah also chose the name Eclen in his younger days.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Happiness is.....(Part 4)

Happiness is....well, simply being bald! After all, as the Chinese are very fond of saying, 9 men out of 10 would be rich. The only problem is, I am still at No. 10 - being a wage earner!

For a long time now, I have been the subject of jokes (even abuse at times) by friends (some so-called) due to my bald head. Depending on how much I need that friend, sometimes I of course tell him/her off if the joke is overboard.

As people say, if you don't love yourself, who would? If you don't respect yourself, who would? I suppose one can do without a friend or two who abuse you or who think they are more superior than you anyway. Friends joke but even jokes have limit, mind you. To quote the late Datuk Felix Golingi, "I would not use my position/power to put people down, but neither would I allow people to use their position/power to put me down".

Then, on Sunday 25 October 2009, I read what perhaps was the best 'defence' of a bald head! Management guru and author Ken Blanchard who is bald hit it right on top of the nail when he said: "God only made a few perfect heads, the rest He covers with hair." (See picture above)

I read the quote in Borneo Post in a feature article written by Phyllis Wong aka Yan. Phyllis is a senior journalist and as Yan is also a blogger (

Among Ken's books are One Minute Manager. He is also a religious man, having written Lead Like Jesus, among others. In fact, Phyllis met the management guru at a Lead Like Jesus seminar in Singapore in October. To read Phyllis' full article on her encounter with him, either go to the archive/library and get a copy of Oct 25 issue of the Borneo Post or simply go to her blog and search her archive.

One up for the bald!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Memory of Maah Ajuh (Part 2)

A few days ago, I wrote about the late Maah Ajuh @ Moses, our former drummer cum singer.

At that time, all I could produce was an old photo of our band taken in 1968.

Then, yesterday, a friend and fellow-blogger sent an e-mail with a video clip attached showing the late Maah singing My Way (Dr Mahathir's favourite song) early this year. Thanks, Pinolobo aka Ben Godomon.

To view the video clip, please go to

Or simply go to or while on Youtube search for Pinolobo or Maah Ajui. (Note: Pinolobo spelt Maah's surname wrongly as Ajui in the video. He must have confused it with Borhan Ajui, the Sabah footballer.)

May his sould rest in peace.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 3) Updated

Happiness is....well, it's still getting married. Only on Thursday I attended a wedding dinner (Happiness is....Part 2). Yesterday another one. This must be the season to get married.

Yesterday, Saturday 28 Nov 2009 must have been a good day to get married, although Christians are not supposed to believe in Feng Shui.

At the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu alone, there were four weddings. Pity the priests.

Over at nearby Tanjung Aru, there were two weddings at Stella Maris Church, one after another.

The one that my wife and I attended was presided over by Rev. Fr. Fundes Motiung. We were actually part of the choir. Too old to be a choir member? Well, as they say, as you get older you also want to be closer to God.

Can we sing? That's not important. As a priest from the Philippines once said: "If you can't sing, then all the more why you should sing for God; least he might take notice and take pity on you and turn your voice into a golden (or in Christian terms 'annointed') one."

There was also a bazaar in the compound of the Parish Hall adjacent to the Stella Maris Church, so you can imagine the crowd, the noise, the traffic jam and parking problem. The bazaar was to raise funds for the proposed new Catholic Church at Putatan. But I am not complaining here. As they say, the more (people) the merrier. And I am sure the new couple didn't mind that those going to the bazaar also had a glimspe of their big day!

The newly-weds, Mr Henry Issac Nicholas and the former Miss Marcella Louisa Jinusie in Western & Kadazan attire. Malaysia truly Asia.

The wordings on the cover of the Wedding Mass booklet yesterday was quoted from Ephesians. It was sentimental to my wife and me as we went to Ephesus, one of the Seven Churches stated in the Book of Revealation, in June.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

In Memory of Maah Ajuh (Updated)

Today I take a break from my 'Happiness is....' series. Something rather 'unhappy' happened.

I am referring to the death of Mr Maah Ajuh.

Today, Friday 27 November 2009 is a public holiday in Malaysia due to the Hari Raya Aidil Adha, otherwise known as Hari Raya Haji in conjunction with the Haj season in the Muslim Holy Land. It is also known as Hari Raya Korban (Feast of Sacrifice) to commemorate patriach Abraham's (Ibrahim in the Quran) obedience to God by his preparedness to sacrifice his son. God however was only testing Abraham's loyalty and stopped him from killing his son just in the nick of time.

Apart from that, it was of course Thanksgiving Day in America. Thus, I was in no hurry to wake up. On a holiday, I normally wake up only when my stomach tells me to.

However, Friday morning, I was awaken by a phone call. The caller said Mr Maah Ajuh had passed away in our hometown of Tamparuli a few hours earlier.

I forced myself out of bed, much as I would like to sleep for at least an hour more, washed and dressed up to go to Tamparuli and breakfast.

The late Maah was more than a childhood friend. He was also the drummer cum singer for our band, The Hornbill, in the late 1960s. He is seen in the centre of the picture above, holding his drum sticks. I am seated second from left.

The picture was taken in 1968 or sometime thereabout. It was taken soon after our band won the Tuaran-district level Battle of The Bands. As you can see, the picture, taken at the only studio in Tamparuli, was in black-and-white, which was the norm those days. And mind you, one has to wait for a few days then before you get to see your picture; compared to a few minutes (and in colour) now!

If I remember correctly, the picture was published in the local newspapers to announce our victory as well as the fact that we would be performing at the up-coming Tuaran Tamu Besar. The Tamu Besar, then held annually, was the biggest event of the district. The highlight was the beauty contest, just like the Kaamatan (Harvest Festival).

But the late Maah 'disappeared' just a few days before the Tamu Besar. He apparently left quietly for Kuala Lumnpur to be trained as a policeman! Luckily we had a standby drummer, though not as good as he.

Upon graduating from the Police Training Academy, the late Maah returned to Sabah to serve as a policeman, of course. Whenever he was off-duty, he would still play the drum for us.

Sometime in the late 1970s, the late Maah was seconded to become ADC (bodyguard) to the then Deputy Chief Minister cum Tamparuli Assemblyman, the late Dr James Ongkili.

After the defeat of the Berjaya party by PBS, the late Maah served Ongkili's successor and my classmate Datuk Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing in a similar capacity until recent years.

In between serving as a policeman and a bodyguard, the late Maah tried his hand in small businesses including starting a car-wash business beside his house by the main road which is still in operation.

The late Maah was a younger brother of the late Wugau Ajuh (also spelt Ugau) who was the Ketua Kampung (those days called Orang Tua) or village headman for Bontoi which is just next to Tamparuli town itself. Those days, the Orang Tua was influencial and highly respected by the native community.

Following Berajaya's victory in 1976, the late Ugau was promoted to Ketua Anak Negeri or Native Chief (NC) for Tamparuli. An NC oversees a group of village headmen. Ugau remained the NC until his death in the late 1970s. Co-incidentally, and if I am not mistaken, he also died on Hari Raya Haji day, just like his brother Maah.

The late Ugau was father to two of our singers in the late 1960s, Malim and Maliana Ugau. Malim and Maliana also appeared on local TV in the early 1970s, those days still in black-and-white. Together with our band sometimes, they also sang at various functions. Those days, entertainment or night life was limited (no Internet, no Video games, no Karaoke, no nothing. Even the Disco was not invented yet.) and people would hold a dance party and call a band at the slightest excuse - wedding, engagement, birthday, etc. Yes, the catch-phrase or password those days was 'party' and whenever teenagers or young adults met they would ask each other when and where the next party would be. I thanked God for my musical talent as the payment that we received though small helped me pay my school and exam fees.

Malim is now Datin Hajjah Malim (forgot her Muslim name), married to a successful businessman and veteran journalist Datuk Wahid Norbinsha. Maliana is also a Datin, married to Datuk Jahid Jahim, Assistant Minister of Youth and Sports cum Tamparuli Assemblyman. For the benefit of my non-Malaysian readers if any, a Datuk and Datin is something like Sir and Lady in Britain; though not neccasarily the same rank.

I am not sure how old the late Maah was. A few years my senior, he must have been around 60. But all I know is the people of Tamparuli will miss his jokes and antics. There was never a dull moment with him around in any function. Mind you, he was multi-lingual. Apart from his mother tongue of Dusun Lotud, he also spoke Malay, English and even a smattering of Hakka which always amused his Chinese friends. This was partly due to the fact that he actually grew up among the Chinese in Tamparuli town as his late brother Ugau operated a sundry shop. In short, he was a fun person to be with.

Maah became a Catholic before he died and personally chose the Christian name Moses. He must have been facinated by the Moses movie which we used to watch as kids at the Tamparuli cinema in the 1960s. The cinema, which was our only form of entertainment at night although it was in black and white and the place warm, noisy and dirty and they needed to change the film half-way, is now a supermarket, just like most cinemas elsewhere in Sabah.

May he rest in peace.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 2)

Happiness is....well, getting married; presumably to the one you love. (The father of the groom in his speech tonite reminded that we are no longer living in the age of forced or pre-arranged marriage like before.)

It's not me though who is getting married. Went through that in 1981. As they say, been there, done that.

I am talking about Simeon Sipaun and Rosni Maladu who were married at the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Kota Kinabalu, the State Capital of Sabah this morning. My wife and I attended their reception at Putera Theatre Ballroom at Bukit Padang a few hours ago.

Simeon is the son of Mr Stephen Sipaun, a retired Kadazan senior civil servant from the Kivatu village in Penampang near Kota Kinabalu and Mdm. Betty Kondu.

Stephen, in turn, is the brother of former Sabah State Secretary (Tan Sri) Simon Sipaun. So needless to say, Simon who is now Vice-Chairman of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), was among the hundreds of guests present tonite.

Rosni is the daughter of Mr Maladu Tovodso and Mdm. Mantiling Banjiran from the Rungus community in the Kudat area. A good mix which is in line with the 1Malaysia slogan. Or should I say 1Sabah or even 1Borneo?

Congratulations to Simeon and Rusni.

P/S: Which reminds me of my trip to Turkey in June. Our male Muslim Turkish guide was telling us that a Muslim man cannot marry more than one in Turkey. I then told him that in Malaysia, which is also an Islamic country like Turkey, a Muslim man can marry up to four; albeit with conditions. His reaction: "Tell me, tell me, how to migrate to Malaysia!"

(Footnote: No offence meant to my Muslim readers. The above is just meant to show how liberal we are in Malaysia. Mind you, a few Muslim Malaysian women actually started a Polygamy Club supporting their husbands marrying more than one! Looks like we better be ready for the influx of Muslim men from Turkey! They are, after all, tall and handsome plus with their mixed Bollywood/Arabic/Orang Putih good looks.)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happiness is....(Part 1)

It suddenly dawn on me, recently, that in a few months' time I would be 56; even then it's assuming that God will allow me to live that long.

Much as I would like to live for as long as possible (for so long as I remain healthy that is), whether I like it or not I would not be around that much longer. After all, comparing human life to the clock, turning 56 would be just like the clock striking 5.30pm!

Which reminds me of the song 'Beyond The Sunset' which is one of the hymns frequently requested by family members of the deceased when our Prayer Group through the Benevolent Ministry pray for the dead either at the funeral parlour or at their home. But I will dwell more on this in a future post when I have the wordings (and hopefully the tune) ready.

Coming back to the original story, upon realising that I'm getting old (at least in the civil service sense as I will be retiring in less than 3 years' time) I've also become rather sentimental. So I decided to start a series of posts (hopefully once a week or at least fortnightly) based on the heading 'Happiness is....'.

So here is my first instalment. I took the above picture when I was having my breakfast in a Kepayan coffeeshop recently. As you can see, my hand was holding 'Yau Cha Kui' (my non-Chinese friends simply call it 'cha kui') and I was dipping it into my cup (or rather glass) of 'Kopi-O-Kau kurang manis'. As I'm turning 56, my memory is also beginning to fail me so that despite trying hard I can't remember what they call it (Cha Kui) in English. All I know is it should be called 'Fried (something)'. HELP! anyone?

Never mind what it is called in English, but what is more important is happiness is dipping my Cha Kui into my Kopi-O as we used to do during our childhood in the old-style coffeeshop back in my hometown Tamparuli in the 1960s; when even the tables, chairs, and cups were old-fashioned which you can't find nowadays.

I know most people would have their Cha Kui laced with either Kaya or Magerine/Butter or both (kahwin), but to me and my childhood friends, happiness is dipping your Cha Kui into the coffee before putting it into your mouth! While you still can, if I may add, as I turn 56 soon.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Another Malaysian Minister-Blogger

Another Malaysian Cabinet Minister, (Tan Sri) Bernard Giluk Dompok (pic, dressed in traditional Kadazan attire) has become a blogger, effective Monday 12 October 2009. (

A British university graduate, Dompok is the Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities. He is also Member of Parliament for Penampang in Sabah, his hometown.

He is President of the Sabah-based United Pasok-Momogun Kadazandusun-Murut Organisation (UPKO), one of the 13 component parties of the Barisan Nasional or BN (National Front), Malaysia's ruling coalition.

Prior to becoming a Federal Minister, Dompok served as Sabah Chief Minister. He was also State Assemblyman for Moyog.

Dompok has thus joined an increasing number of Malaysian politicians-turned bloggers. Prior to Malaysia's 12th General Election on 8 March 2008 in which BN fared badly compared to previous elections; nobody in the ruling party gave much thought to the Internet, much less becoming bloggers themselves.

But the opposition coalition of Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) made clever use of the Internet in their election campaign. Most opposition candidates were bloggers or at least had their own sites.

The election results showed that the BN had under-estimated the power of the Net especially in the urban areas where the opposition did well. But it's better late than never and today many BN politicians are already bloggers or at least have web sites for their constituencies.

And the No. 1 blogger in the country? Why, it's the Prime Minister Najib Razak himself ( Former Prime Minister (Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad was of course one of the earliest political bloggers and his site,, has attracted millions of visitors since last year. In fact, some of Dr M's earlier postings had already been compiled into a book!

On the opposition front, their No. 1 blogger is none other than the Opposition Leader in the Malaysian Parliament, Anwar Ibrahim himself ( Other notable opposition bloggers include 'Mr Opposition' Lim Kit Siang and Jeff Ooi, the blogger-turned-politician who set the trend. And of course you have the news portals, Malaysiakini and Malaysia Today, often seen as opposition symphatisers.

Sikmading says: Welcome on board as a blogger, Tan Sri. Congratulations, although your first posting was in the Malay language.  I know your English is powerful and that you are an intellectual and I can't wait to read your first post in English. You have, sir, after all been in politics since 1985 and had even been on the pinnacle of Sabah politics (the Chief Ministership) and therefore your thoughts and views would be valuable to the younger generation and newcomers to politics especially the Youth Wing of UPKO.

I had the opportunity to serve the Tan Sri including during the difficult days of PBS when its leaders were often harrased by Kuala Lumpur. But believe me, if there is any Sabah leader who would dare to stand up  to Kuala Lumpur and still win some respect and get some results, Bernard Dompok is definitely one of them. If I say he is the only one you probably would not believe me. So suffice for me to say that he is one of the very few who dared to do so. 

When I retire and if I do write a book on my experiences since Usno time in the early 1970s when I started working, an entire chapter or even two will have to be about Dompok. If you can't wait that long, in the meantime let me just tell you that he is not what some Sabahans (especially those who punished him politically) might think. It's just that he has his own way of doing things, just like Dr Mahathir's favourite song - I did it my way. 

In conclusion, for the information of his critics as well as the younger leaders: When Sabahans like Dr Jeffery, Dr Maximus and Ben Topin were arrested under ISA, Dompok was the  only Sabah MP who dared to speak against it in Parliament with Dr M staring at him. Dr Maximus is now a fellow-Federal Minister of Dompok, how nice!

If anyone is offended by what I just wrote, no offence meant. I just want to put the record straight. But don't take my words for garnted. Go and check the Hansards in Parliament or for that matter the State Assembly and of course the newspapers.

My critics would probably say I angkat kaki (curry favour) with Tan Sri. I don't have to. I stopped serving him since 1994 and had survied until today on my own. For that matter, I have survived since Usno days of the 1970s. The late Tun Mustapha, before he died, asked me why I befriended him (as a reporter) only when he was no longer Chief Minister. My reply was when he was in power I was still a student or had just started working. We both had a good laugh.

Happy blogging Tan Sri. 

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri

Wishing all my Muslim visitors Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri or Hari Raya Puasa. Thank you for visiting my blog. Please visit again. 

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Daphne breaks silence...

Sabah-hailed Malaysian TV host Daphne Iking who recently found herself in the news for the wrong reason, has finally broken her silence.

Daphne, whose husband Ryan has brought her man friend Choy to court for allegedly "enticing" her, spoke to Reena Raj of Malay Mail, Malaysia's only English afternoon daily this week. In a comparatively conservative society like Malaysia's, the Malay Mail is probably the closest you can get in relation to the gossip tabloids of the Western mainstream media.

Reena's article, published Tuesday, was titled: "Daphne moves on with life - TV host not allowing enticement case to get to her".

The full article reads:-

Ravishing TV presenter, host and brand ambassador Daphne Iking is not letting the high-profile enticement case before the courts to get to her.

"It is painful and annoying but I am able to endure it," she said. "I've moved on."

Daphne's husband Ryan Chong has dragged managing director Choy Khin Ming to court in a private prosecution under Section 498 of the Penal Code for "enticing or taking away or detaining with a criminal intent a married woman".

"This is not my case. It's funny, my name is associated with the case, but I've got nothing to do with it and therefore I will not be present at any of the hearings," she said.

Daphne, who is currently seperated from her husband, said her 21-month-old daughter Isobel means the world to her and "keeps me sane".

She refused to say for how long she has been seperated from her husband, as she didn't want it to affect her daughter's life.

"I've lost a couple of jobs because of this publicity, but I have also got some new offers. I am now working in a play, something I always wanted to do," she said.

Daphne is in a play titled Whack's Bar that will be staged from Oct 1 at the Petaling Jaya Arts Centre. She said the court case had revealed the number of true friends she had, adding her parents and siblings were with her, giving her the moral support she needed.

"I'm blessed to have so many caring and understanding friends, but there are one or two who don't understand. But the support of friends and fans is more than I expected."

Meanwhile, at the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court yesterday, magistrate Mohd Faizi Che Abu said he would prepare the grounds of his decision rejecting the defence application to recuse him for Choy's defence counsel Jagjit Singh and Akbardin Abdul Kader to be submitted for their appeal to the High Court.

In the hearing on Aug 22, Akbardin sought for the case to be tried by another magistrate on the grounds that Mohd Faizi had heard the statement of complaint and issued the summons against Choy.

He cited Section 128 of the Criminal Procedure Code that stated that an accused shall be entitled to require that the case be tried by another magistrate when a magistrate takes cognisance of an offence upon his knowledge or suspicion that an offence had been committed.

Mohd Faizi rejected the defence's request to adjourn the case, saying he had no personal knowledge of the offence and had followed the law to determine whether there was sufficient grounds to issue a summons.

On Aug 26, Akbardin filed a notice of appeal against Mohd Faizi's decision to try the case. But yesterday, Mohd Faizi said he was being transferred and the High Court would decide on the magistrate who would hear the case from now on.

The hearing on Dec 9 and 10 will remain.

"We will not withdraw the notice of appeal that we had filed and will wait for a decision from the High Court," Akbardin said.

Choy was seated in the public gallery during the hearing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Welcome & Goodbye 09.09.09

Come tomorrow, Thursday, newspapers across the world will splash pictures similar to the top three pictures above. These pictures, courtesy of the Sun newspaper of Malaysia, were taken at various locations in the country today, Wednesday during mass wedding ceremonies.

Throughout Malaysia, there must have been at least a few thousand couples who purposely tied the knot on this auspicious day, the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the new millennium or more popularly known as 09.09.09. Nine in Chinese also sounds like another word which means long-lasting or longevity.

Thus, what better day to get married for the Chinese than 999 or triple nine? Therefore, if a few thousand Chinese couples got married today in Malaysia, can you imagine China which has not only the most Chinese people but also the largest population in the world? I would imagine that it would run into tens or even hundreds of thousands. In its capital city Beijing alone, about 10,000 newly-weds were registered today!

Bearing in mind that there are Chinese people in every nook and corner of the world, can you imagine the total number of people who got married today? It must be at least a million! However, there is only one catch - in the Chinese or lunar calender, today is the 21st day of the 7th month. This is the month of ghost which is not suitable for marriage. In fact, just a week ago the Chinese especially the Taoists just observed ghost day!

But there is a way to get around it - most of the couples only register their marriages today. They will only hold their wedding feasts after the 'month of ghost' is over! The next month in the lunar calender, the 8th month will be a good date to celebrate. To begin with, the word eight in Chinese has similarity in sound with another word which means prosperity or wealth. In fact, the Chinese are so crazy about 8 that they would pay any amount to have that as their car plate number.

On top of that, the popular Mooncake or mid-autumn festival falls on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calender. As it is, the moon is normally full or round (weather-permitting) on the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month. The Chinese believe that the moon on the 15th day of the 8th month is fullest or even rounder! Thus the Chinese saying "when the moon is round, flowers bloom" and thus this is another popular date on which to get married.

In a few hours' time, except for certain parts of the world, 09.09.09 will be no more. Although in ten years' time there will be a 09.09.2109, it's not the same and mankind will have to wait until 09.09.3009 by which time I believe we will no longer be around. By then too, the bloggers will be our next next generation and we can't even imagine the technology then or the gadgets that they will be using!

But 09.09.09 is not just a good day to get married! Even the businesses are cashing in on it, some albeit with a bit of charity thrown in though. The Southern Bakery of Kota Kinabalu in Sabah has even declared a 999 Day! (Please see bottom picture) Not wanting to let this auspicious day gets by just like that, Southern is selling their fresh buns at 90 cents each and is donating to charity through Food for the Hungry International,in which Southern chain (which includes the newly-established and popular Southern Stations/Cafes across Sabah) owner and my friend CK Tan (formerly of Sabah KFC fame) has a role.

Very thoughtful of you, Mr Tan, and what a novel way to raise funds for charity! Keep it up and I hope other business establishments will follow your fine example.

Meanwhile, Welcome and Goodbye, 09.09.09! For those who miss it or not willing to let it go, don't worry, in certain parts of the world (e.g. parts of America), it's still 999 tomorrow!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

In defense of SJD (Update 2)

I read with surprise and almost disbelief a Daily Express front page report Sunday titled "Appointment Is Revoked".

According to the writer, Elizabeth Majaham, the Local Government and Housing Ministry has revoked the appointment of former Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (LPPB) general manager Sylvester Jomitod Disimon (SJD) (pic above) as Penampang District Chief which is supposed to take effect on Tuesday 1 September 2009.

The reporter quoted Penampang Native Chief Johhny Molijoh who in turn quoted Penampang district officer (DO) William Sampil. (A District Chief or DC is more senior than a Native Chief or NC as he is in charge of an entire district as his title suggests or at least a State constituency whereas an NC is only in charge of a Mukim or cluster of villages. A DC may thus have several NCs under him.)

Johnny claimed that William had told him Friday that a revocation letter was given to SJD through the DO. The Daily Express article was reproduced by SJD in his blog,, today. In fact, SJD's blog had carried almost all the news reports about this 'controversy' from the start; although some of the statements were not favourable to him. I find this rather 'gentlemanly' on the part of SJD.

In his latest posting today (as of my time of writing), SJD confirmed receiving the 'revocation' letter and that he respected the Ministry's decision to impose the "cooling-off" period in view of the 'heat' generated by out-going DC Christopher Mojungkim and his 'supporters'.

Let us start from the beginning. It all started when the Borneo Post reported sometime early August that SJD had the previous day submitted his acceptance letter as DC effective 1.9.2009 to the DO who delivered it on behalf of the Sabah Native Affairs office director.

The incumbent DC, Christopher immediately issued a statement to Daily Express saying, among other things, that he felt embarassed and humiliated that he came to know of SJD's appointment and his impending removal only through the Press; that he deserved to be told personally; that he was not too old to continue serving; etc, etc. Chris' statement was supported and elaborated upon the following days by, among others, the so-called Penamapng Native Welfare Association (wonder if it's registered and can't bother to remember the name of its head) and, surprisingly, opposition figure Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan. Even PBS, a fellow BN component party of UPKO whose leaders are both the Assemblyman and MP in Penampang, joined in the fray.

I can't remember who said what, but among the accusations hurled against SJD and the government (I'm just saying it in general) were that the BN parties should have been consulted; that the views of the KadazanDusun Cultural Association (KDCA) and not just Kadazan Society of Sabah (KSS) be considered and so on. Jeffrey even, surprisingly, accused UMNO of "bullying" other component parties of Penampang BN by pushing through SJD's appointment. I won't waste my time and energy to repeat everything here, those interested can either look for old newspapers or visit SJD's blog.

Sikmading says: 1. Looking back and speaking with the benefit of hindsight, SJD should perhaps not brought along a reporter (Borneo Post) when he submitted his acceptance letter to the DO. I'm just assuming that it was he who informed the reporter. It could have been the DO's office or Penampang Native Court. But then again, there was nothing wrong, not legally at least. It was SJD's right to inform the whole world that he has been appointed the new DC come 1st Sept and that he was accepting it, that's all. Some people are Press-savvy, some are not. Some are publicity shy, some are not. It's the individual's right, say what you like. It's also up to the individual to shoulder any consequences of his actions. It's a free world. To cut the long story short, my point is SJD committed no wrong by publicising the event and it certainly DID NOT disqualify him from his appointment which had already been made in the first place.

2. Secondly, again speaking with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps SJD should not have visited his new office after the above event while there is still an incumbent and especially when the latter was not aware of it. I can understand Chris' feelings. But we don't know what excatly transpired during or after the visit to the DO's office that day. SJD could have been prompted by the DO himself and the couple of Native Chiefs who were present. It's human nature to 'angkat kaki' (curry favour) with your new or in-coming boss, isn't it? Whatever it is, the above unfortunate incident, whether it was tactful or otherwise, SHOULD NOT disqualify SJD as he was the in-coming DC anyway. If any 'offence' had been committed, it was at best 'lack of tactfulness or sensitivity', that's all. Perhaps an apology from SJD to Chris (who happens to be his 2nd cousin) would help cool things down but this must come from SJD only if he wants to, nobody should force him. Whatever it is, this unfortunate incident DOES NOT disqualify SJD!

3. Chris said he was embarassed and humiliated that he had to learn of the termination of his appointment through the Press. It was not the job or responsibility of SJD to inform Chris, much less to make sure that the latter had received his termination letter by then. It was the job of the Native Affairs office and the DO office, and we don't know who caused the delay; if Chris' statement were to be believed. SJD was merely submitting his acceptance letter, that's all. He did not commit a crime! Don't tell me just because Chris had not received his letter was enough ground to disqualify SJD?

4. As to the accusations or statements that the BN parties should have been consulted, well, consultations need not neccessarily bring about agreement or a concensus. In the end, no candidate may be agreed upon and the people suffer. In any case, as far as I know, the norm is that it is the prerogative of the Wakil Rakyat or YB (from the governing party, of course) to recommend to the Ministry of Local Government and Housing through the Native Affairs office. In this case, I understand that SJD had the reccommendations of not just the Assemblyman (Donald Mojuntin) but also the MP (Bernard Dompok). Everything was above board. In any case, as SJD pointed out in his blog today, was NC Johnny and NC Adrian Sikawah's appointments discussed with the component parties? I might as well add that did the PBS YBs elsewhere in Sabah discuss with or get the blessings of other component leaders at the constituency level before submitting the names of their nominees, not just for the DC or NC posts but any other political appointees? I say this because the Moyog PBS leader was among those who queried SJD's appointment publicly. Is issuing a public statement against another component party consultation? Was that in the spirit of BN?

5. Jeffrey's statement - how did Jeffrey know that UMNO "bullied" others? Who gave him this bright idea? Your guess is as good as mine. All claimants to the DC throne are supposed to be pro-BN men and therefore if anyone turned to the opposition for personal gain, then this person does not deserve the coveted crown anyway. By the way, Dr Jeffrey, how can UMNO "bully" when SJD's name was submitted by Donald Mojuntin and Bernard Dompok both of whom are from UPKO?

6. The presence of KSS people at the DO office - Was it legally wrong for these people to be present? Was it wrong for these people to share the joy of SJD, their Deputy Sabah President and Penampang head? Charity begins at home. Are KSS members of Penampang not tax-paying citizens too? Don't they pay rates to the Penampang district council? Don't they vote? Are they not rakyat and anak negeri whom the Native Court is supposed to look after? Does bringing them disqualify SJD? Had SJD been a KDCA leader (which he once was) would the KDCA members make noise? Hasn't KSS been well-received by the Kadazans of Penampang as evidenced by the big crowds that turned up during their district-level functions? Jeffrey also singled out KSS president Datuk Marcel Leiking whom he described as an UMNO leader. Poor Marcel! Even if it were true that Marcel recommended SJD, so what? That's his right! He had every right to nominate his KSS deputy president just as Pairin had every right to nominate someone from KDCA! It's up to the YBs to accept or not! The YBs are not children whom Marcel can manipulate! It was just a co-incidence that Marcel was from UMNO. He could have been from DAP but he is still the KSS president! Don't insult our intelligence by suggesting that Donald and Bernard preferred UMNO man Marcel's choice over their own UPKO choice! SJD was accepted partly because of his experience as a head of government department and his family lineage of district/native/village chiefs! Wouldn't it be nice to have a former head of department as the District Chief? It's historic and something to be proud of for the Kadazans! Besides,what is there to stop Jeffrey or the PBS Moyog divisional head to make their own recommendations? The fact that John Masabal did not make one showed that even he understood that it's the YBs', and not his, prerogative! Just as it's the PBS YBs' prerogative to make recommendations in their areas!

Lastly, I don't think it was a permanent revocation letter. From what I understand, it's just KIV or put on hold, I think. As SJD himself pointed out, just cooling-off period. SJD and not Chris here, I think is the victim. He is innocent. He's the scapegoat.

Please also read my visitors' comments below.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sabah Celebrity in the News....

You can be in the news either for the right or wrong reasons. If it's for the right reason, then one would certainly welcome the publicity. If it's for the wrong reason, it's certainly not something that one looks forward to, especially if you are a celebrity.

Recently, Sabah-hailed Malaysian TV personality Daphne Iking (bottom picture) found herself in exactly the same situation - being in the news for the wrong reason. It's certainly not welcome news, conisdering that she's a public figure and celebrity.

Just two-and-a-half years ago, Daphne, a former Kadazan beauty queen, got married to fellow-Malaysian Ryan Chong in Bali, said to be one of the most romantic places on earth to tie the knot. I mean, who doesn't envy a friend getting married on the romantic Indonesian island of Bali? Daphne has since gave birth to Isobel who is now 21 months old.

Although I do not know much about Ryan's background or what he does for a living, I had no doubt that theirs would be a match made in heaven and sealed on a romantic island like Bali. I mean, for Daphne to have agreed to marry him when she could have concentrated on her successful career for at least a few more years, she must have loved him very much and vice versa.

As a fellow-Sabahan, I wished the couple well. So imagine my shock when I read in the newspapers last week that Ryan has dragged a businessman to court for "enticing" his wife, citing Section 498 of the Penal Code which reads: "enticing or taking away or detaining with a criminal intent a married woman."

Wow! My immediate reaction (as a former Pressman) was: "This is going to be juicy. The Press, especially the tabloids, would love it." Such is the cruelty of society, bearing in mind that it was the Paparazzi that killed Princess Diana. I had heard of "All Good Things Must Come To An End" but must this happen to a marriage, especially that of a seemingly perfect one?

By the way, although the man accused of enticing Daphne was described as a "Corporate Figure", he didn't turn out to be a well-known tycoon as his name did not immediately ring a bell (to me at least). His name: Choy Khin Ming (upper picture). He looks relatively young compared to other corporate figures and handsome too (which helps explain the alleged enticing). Surprisingly, Ryan's picture was not published; not in the Star at least where I got the above pictures from.

Looks like the case, though juicy since the plaintiff has produced 'evidence' including passport copies, invoices and e-mails, is going to be more complicated and intersting rather than straight-forward as between a plaintiff and defendant. This is because Daphne surprised both parties (or rather both men) when the trial opened by sending two lawyers who claimed they were holding a watching brief for her and may file to ask questions later.

Daphne's lawyers' presence not only took the court by surprise, they indirectly gave an indication of whose side Daphne is on when they told the magistrate that they would make a formal application to challenge the summons and the constituionality of Section 498.

"It is archaic and no longer has a place in society. It is a total affront to women to suggest that we can be so easily enticed and so stupid enough to be enticed," said one of Daphne's lawyers who is a woman.

The case has been adjourned to September. In the meantime, it looks like Ryan has to fight more than just the defendant - but his wife too.

(Footnote: Daphne is the daughter of a former policeman-turned-lawyer/banker Moses Iking who hails from Tambunan in Sabah's interior, best known for producing Huguan Siou (Paramount Chief of the Kadazan-Dusun people), Joseph Pairin whose popularity overthrew the then Berjaya government in 1985. Ironically, Moses challenged Pairin for the Tambunan state seat in the 2008 general election won by Pairin.)

Miss Universe 2009 (Part 2)

JoannaBelle, from Kota Kinabalu, is of Chinese-Indian ancestry

Although Miss Malaysia 2009, JoannaBelle Ng Li Vun did not make it to the Top 15 in the just-concluded Miss Universe 2009 held in Bahamas this morning (Malaysian time), Malaysians from the Borneo state of Sabah are still proud of her. The 21-year-old model is from Sabah, one of the so-called two east Malaysian states situated on Borneo island; the other being Sarawak.

Infact, the year 2009 has so far been a good year for Sabah beauties. Not only did the Miss Malaysia/Universe 2009 come from Sabah, so did the first runner-up, Cassandra Patrick, pictured above with JoannaBelle (centre). Cassandra is on the left. On the right is 2nd runner-up, Claudia Tania Sibert (this name sounds east-Malaysian too!).

Miss Universe 2009

Miss Photogenic from Thailand

Miss Congeniality from China

'The Donald' (Centre) with Miss Universe 2009 (left) and Miss Universe 2008, both from Venezuela.

Miss France during the evening dress segment.

The moment of truth...and the winner is...

From Venezuela to Venezuela...

We did it again...two up for Venezuela

The much-awaited Miss Universe 2009 is finally known after the finals held at Atlantis hotel complex in Paradise Island, Nassau, Bahamas this morning (Sunday night US time).

She is Miss Venezuela, Stephania Fernandez. She is the second Venezuelan candidate to win the coveted world title in two consecutive years. She was crowned by Miss Venezuela/Universe 2008, Dayana Mendoza. When interviewed during her last walk as Miss Universe 2008, Dayana said her proudest moment upon being crowned last year was being able to bring the Miss Universe crown back to Venezuela after 12 years!

The first runner-up is Miss Dominican Republic, Ada Aimee de la Cruz.

There were no Asians among the top 5, but there was plenty of consolation when Miss Thailand won the subsidiary title of Miss Photogenic while Miss China was proclaimed Miss Congeniality.

Although Miss Malaysia did not make it to the Top 15, the consolation for east Malaysians is that she is from Sabah.

Among those present at the pageant was, who else, but the owner of Miss Universe organization, Donald Trump or better known as 'The Donald'.

Photos courtesy of The Sun, Malaysia.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Sikmading & Berjaya! (Part 2)

What a co-incidence! Only two hours ago I wrote about the birth of the Berjaya party in 1975 and its demise in the late 1980s. And moments ago I decided to visit Joseph Bingkasan's (JB) blog, Aki Momogun and what's his posting today? - According to him a group of young Sabah leaders are in the process of reviving Berjaya! Even the logo (above) is the same except for the additional thumbs-up sign. Also still there is the slogan or battle cry "Berjaya Tetap Berjaya" (Berjaya always succeeds).

If I remember correctly, the thumbs-up sign was also the 'signal' of Sabah People's Party or Parti Rakyat Sabah (PRS) led by former Berjaya deputy president the late Datuk Dr James Peter Ongkili. PRS was formed in 1989 by mostly former leaders of Berjaya which had by then been dissolved. It made its debut in the 1990 Sabah state general election but failed to win a single seat! PBS led by Ongkili's uncle Datuk Joseph Pairin Kitingan won a landslide in that election. Talk about blood being thicker than water!

Ongkili, also a former Sabah deputy chief minister, himself suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of his former opponent, Datuk Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing the PBS candidate. 'Humiliating' because Ongkili, also a former federal minister in the Malaysian Cabinet and one of the most educated Sabah leaders, lost his deposit. Bumburing, who was Ongkili's student at the University of Malaya in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in the 1970s, lost his deposit when he fought as an opposition candidate (Pasok party) against then deputy chief minister Ongkili in 1981. What a reversal of fortunes!

Among the PRS leaders who also lost was former Berjaya minister Datuk Ayub Aman, in Bingkor. The PRS deputy president is the brother of the current Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Musa Aman. Ayub's teaming-up with Ongkili was most unexpected, as the two were at logger-heads during the Berjaya era; with the former leading the Dusun Association while the latter insisted that the Dusun should be called Kadazan. Mind you, when Ayub first rebutted openly against Ongkili, he (Ayub) was only an Assistant Minister while Ongkili was his senior colleague being the No. 2 man in both the government and ruling party! This led to rumours that Ayub had the No.1 (Chief Minister and Berjaya president Harris Salleh) behind him. As the saying goes, there's no permanent friend and no permanent enemy in politics!

Ongkili later gave up leadership of the Kadazans and passed the baton on to his uncle, another former Berjaya minister Joseph Pairin who cleverly used it for political gains and achieved the ultimate prize in Sabah politics - that of the Chief Ministership in 1985 - something which Ongkili must have regretted. Man proposes, God disposes. Pairin, despite being Ongkili's relative, had earlier fell out of favour with Harris and dropped from the latter's Cabinet.

PRS was dissolved after its disastrous debut outing. Ongkili died a few years ago. May his soul rest in peace.

For more on Berjaya Baru, which I myself heard of only today, go to JB's blog: I would like to take this opportunity to thank JB for introducing me to blogging 2 years ago. As far as I know, he is the only Sabah blogger to have appeared in the TV programme Blog over RTM. Congratulations! Well done brother, keep it up.

Footnote: Berjaya president and former Sabah chief minister Datuk Harris Salleh stepped down after its defeat mid-1985. The then party secretary-general Datuk Mohd Noor Mansoor defeated Ongkili for the new presidency, despite the latter being the incumbent No.2. Noor led Berjaya to an even more disastrous outing in the 1986 snap Sabah state general election. If Berjaya under Harris won 6 seats (out of 48) in 1985, the party under Noor won even less in 1986. A few months after the state election, the federal or parliamentary election followed. By then PBS had been accepted into BN along with Usno, the 'survivor' despite losing to Berjaya in 1976. Berjaya under Noor dropped a bomb shell just before the nationwide election - it pulled out of the BN, apparently trying to win votes of Sabahans dissatisfied with PBS' entry into BN. It didn't work. Berjaya scored 0. That sealed Berjaya's fate and the party was eventually dissolved for good.

Happy Birthday Sikmading & Berjaya! (Updated)

This post was supposed to have been written two days ago on Wednesday. However, due to circumstances beyond my control (favourite excuse of politicians and public relations personnel!) including technical hitches, I can do it only now. So, as you read it, please imagine that it's July 15. Thank you.

Time flies. Without realising and as if it was only yesterday, my blog is two years old! Yes, on 15 July 2007 I started Sikmading's Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. To the best of my memory, I had along the way made a couple of promises (especially on New Year's Eve) that I would TRY my best to blog everyday or at least every other day. I failed to keep my promises, but are promises not meant to be broken? Ha ha, what an excuse!

But, who cares? I might not have blogged regularly and my blog might not have been the best or won any prize, but at least I provided my fellow Sabahans and Malaysians with a blog on our beloved State of Sabah, nicknamed 'Land Below The Wind'. For that matter, I provided the World with a blog on this Borneo state. I helped popularise this east Malaysian state in cyberspace or borderless world, free of charge. For that, I should be given a Datukship (PGDK) compared to those less-deserving! After all, I'm just one step below the Datukship (ASDK). Ha ha, what wishful thinking! No joke no fun, as they say.

Actually, it's not just my blog's anniversary. July 15 WAS also the birthday of (the late) BERJAYA Party or, in the Malay language, Parti BERJAYA. Please see the press clipping above or go to my blog archive and click 2007. Yes, in 1975 a new political party was formed in Sabah which would change the course of the State's history until the mid-1980s. Within 9 months of its formation, BERJAYA swept to power; defeating the USNO-dominated Alliance Party which had ruled Sabah for 9 years since Independence in 1963. What's in a name? BERJAYA means success in Malay.

But BERJAYA's success did not last long, and 9 (months) is not always lucky. In Chinese, apart from nine it also sounds like long-lisitng. But it also sounds like dog! BERJAYA lost to an even younger party, the Sabah Unity People or PBS (less than 2 months old) 9 years later in 1985. And, believe it or not, PBS 'lost' (through defections) to Malaysia's ruling National Front (BN) coalition also 9 years later in 1994! However, the UMNO-led BN managed to break the 'zinx' and has been in power in Sabah for 15 years now! For the record, both USNO and BERJAYA have been dissolved or de-registered. But the irony was that USNO, one of Sabah's oldest party formed in preparation for Independence in the early 1960s, outlived BERJAYA by a few years! BERJAYA was dissolved in the late 1980s while USNO was de-registered in mid-1990s.

To conclude, I don't want to make any more promises which I may not be able to keep. But suffice for me to say that the 2nd anniversary of my blog hopefully will spur me on to blog more regularly from now on and, hopefully too, to continue with the BERJAYA story which I started two years ago. Many of my visitors had urged me to carry on but I explained that will depend on my having the time to get (and money, the photostat that is not cheap) the resources from the archives.

Hopefully too, it will spur me on to continue with the pilgrimage story (Trail of St Paul, Turkey) which was stopped temporarily. Again,my fellow pilgrims have urged me to continue, although we are now safely home. And although by now most of them have got my photos, they say seeing those pix in the Internet is something different. They can tell and show their friends and relatives all over the world about it.

To conclude a second time, we thank God that we are safely home and so far none of us have contracted the much talked-about H1N1 (which our Information Minister insisted should be called Swine Fever although our Health Minister had repeatedly said the disease did not come from pigs).

About two weeks after our return, a local daily newspaper reported that one of the then 4 Sabahans who caught the flu had just came back from Turkey! You can imagine our phones that day! We were busy answering calls and reassuring our callers that none of us was the patient concerned. He (or rather she) turned out to be a teacher in Kudat who had arrived from Istanbul a week later than us and who was not part of our entourage. Looking back, the $75 that we each spent on the jab at Dr Tan's before the trip was well-spent.Thank you Lord, for protecting us, including the safe journey home; what not after receiving news of the Air France plane crash while we were in Turkey!

Cheers! Aramaiti! Yoku boti!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary Fr. Fundes

Reverend Father Fundes Motiung (middle) was given a surprise cake in conjunction with his 11th anniversary as a Catholic Priest recently. The occasion was a thanksgiving reunion for 32 Sabahans who made a 2-week pilgrimage to Turkey from 29 May to 12 June. Fr. Fundes was the spiritual director for the pilgrimage which was made in conjunction with The Year of St Paul which ended last month. The social gathering was held at the residence of tour co-ordinator Linus Tokujip in Kinarut. Fr. Fundes was ordained on 6 July 1998 and is now the Rector of the Stella Maris in Tanjung Aru near Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah in east Malaysia, otherwise known as Malaysian Borneo. Among those seen in the picture are Mrs Stella Tokujip (left), Sr. Rose Chew (on Fr.'s right) and Sr. Anna (on Fr.'s left).

One Malaysia at Work

As I am blogging to you, the new Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak (pic) is speaking at a function in Kuala Lumpur in conjunction with the 100th Day of his holding office. His speech, which he is still delivering, is being carried live over TV via RTM1.

But it is not his speech that I'm blogging about or which prompted me to write this new post. But rather, true to his promise of a new nation via 1Malaysia, I can't help but notice that protocol is kept to the minimum.

Except for the seats for the Prime Minister and his deputy, Muhyiddin Yassin and the minister-in-charge of the function and live broadcast Dr Rais Yatim, it's free seating - meaning even ministers have to find their own seats. This resulted in some ministers who came later than others found themselves sitting on the floor below the stage, amongst students.

This new arrangement must have taken the VIPs by surprise. The Ministers, who are so used to being treated like VIPs or even VVIPs, must have registered their protests, even if quietly or discreetly. Much as they don't like it, some must have just kept quiet when told that it was the PM's directive.

Critics (there is never any shortage of them anywhere in the world) may say that the above was pre-planned or orchestrated to imporve the new PM's image. Well, even if it was orchestrated and of course it was pre-planned, it still shows Najib's sincerity in line with his 1Malaysia slogan where People Comes First. Since taking office 100 days ago, Najib has paid several surprise visits to public areas frequented by the people, mingling with the crowd and sitting down for a cup of Teh Tarik (Malaysia's version of Indian tea). He also told his Ministers and other leaders not to wait for invitations to go down to the ground and not to look forward to things which they are so used to like protocol and other niceties like garland, kompang (Muslim tamborine), red carpet and souvenirs.

Looks like his Ministers better get used to more surprises.

Najib is just about to finish his speech. He has just made 11 announcements, since today is 11th July. Refer to the Internet/Online News /TV and Radio news and tomorrow's papers for details.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Another Sabahan Does The State Proud (2nd Update)

Yesterday, Senator Armani Mahiruddin created history when she took her oath-of-office (pic) as the first woman Deputy President of the Dewan Negara or Senate, the Malaysian Parliament's Upper House. Malaysia, comprising the former Federation of Malay States or Malaya, Singapore, and the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak, came into being in 1963 after gaining independence from Britain. However, the island city state of Singapore left the federation in 1965 and is now a republic on its own.

That was from the Malaysian perspective. But from the perspective of Sabah, the 52-year-old former school teacher created another history - she was the first Sabahan to be appointed to the prestigious post. However, another Sabahan, the late Ben Stephens (brother of first Sabah Chief Minister from 1963-4, the late Donald Stephens, later Mohamad Fuad Stephens after he became a Muslim) was appointed to an even higher post - that of the Senate President in 1985 and remained there for a few years.

Armani's appointment was sort of an icing on the cake for her family's political achievements. She is sister of former Deputy Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat or House of Representatives, the Lower House of the Malaysian Parliament, Juhar Mahiruddin who is now Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly of Sabah; one of Malaysia's 13 States.

Armani is a member of the Supreme Council of the Pergerakan Wanita (Women's Wing) of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the major partner of Malaysia's ruling National Front or BN coalition. She also heads the Sabah Liaison Body for the Wanita and is chief of the movement's Libaran Division headed by Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman. Prior to her appointment as Senator, she was a Board Member of the Sabah Housing & Town Development Authority (LPPB).

Her latest appointment came only days after the confirmation of the appointment of another Sabahan, Dr Oh Ei Sun, as Political Secretary to the Prime Minister; another first for a Sabahan. Only weeks earlier, Sabah saw the State's largest and most powerful representation yet in the Malaysian Cabinet headed by new Prime Minister Najib Razak. The new Cabinet now has four Sabahan full Ministers including, for the first time since 1963, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, brother of the Sabah Chief Minister. In the old days, Sabah used to have only one single Minister in the Malaysian Cabinet. What a difference!

Sabah, whose political leverage never really mattered to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysian capital) in the past, saw a reversal of fortunes after Malaysia's 12th General Election last year which saw the ruling National Front doing badly; infact almost losing at the federal level and having lost 5 states plus the Federal Territory of KL. Suddenly, the voices of the leaders of Sabah (which has 24 BN Members of Parliament) and neighbouring Sarawak (with even more BN MPs) were being heard seriously for the first time.

The reason is simple - if only half of the Sabah and Sarawak BN MPs switch camps, then BN would lose control of the Central Government. Infact at one stage, a few months after the 8 March 2008 election, that possibility was real! Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim had even set 16 September 2009 as the date by which his Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) coalition would take over! That however did not materialise, with Anwar offering a host of excuses of course.

Sabah and Sarawak suddenly saw an increase in their bargaining power which can no longer be ignored by then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad and his successor Najib Razak (April 2009 onwards). Following last year's election, a Sabahan (Pandikar Amin) is now for the first time the Dewan Rakyat Speaker. One of his deputies is also a Sabahan while the other deputy post went to a Sarawakian. And now you have another Sabahan as the Deputy Senate President.

This was something Sabahans and Sarawakians never dreamt of prior to last year's election. Even the Chairman of the Parliament Backbenchers' Club is a Sarawakian while his deputy is a Sabahan (Bung Mokhtar)!

Well done, Najib, keep it up! As your slogan says, OneMalaysia!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Oh's Appointment confirmed!

Last Sunday, I wrote that academician Dr Oh Ei Sun has been appointed Political Secretary to the Prime Minister; the first Sabahan to hold such prestigous post.

A Bernama report today said an official in the Prime Minister's Department has confirmed the appointment, effective June 16.

Congratulations, Dr Oh. You have done Sabah proud.

As a fellow Sabahan, there is only one thing I humbly ask of you: Don't let success gets to your head and don't 'kacang lupa kulit' (the peanut forgetting its skin). I have worked since 1973 and have seen too many people changed too quickly, just because they are given some power.

I would also like to quote someone: "Be nice to people on your way up because you are going to meet the same people on your way down." Again, I have witnessed this many times over the last few decades - ex-leaders being ignored by people when they become nobody. Some were even cursed or made fun of.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sabahan Becomes PM's Aide?

A Sabahan intellectual, Dr Oh Ei Sun, has been appointed Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, a local Chinese newspaper reported today.

According to the Overseas Chinese Daily News (OCDN), the leading East Malaysian socio-political analyst is now one of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's aides; presumably to advise the new PM on East Malaysian and Chinese affairs.

According to the leading Sabah Chinese daily, Dr Oh's appointment was prompted by the recommendation of Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman. Dr Oh used to be a columnist with the New Sabah Times, a local English daily whose Chairman is Datuk Ayub Aman, the CM's brother.

The OCDN reported that Dr Oh has actually started work but there has been no official announcement. Efforts by the paper to contact him for confirmation failed by press time last night.

The 35-year-old Dr Oh who hails from Kota Kinabalu was once described as Sabah's child prodigy. At age 19, he obtained Bachelor Degrees in Engineering, Aviation and German philosophy. He later obtained Masters in International Commerce and an MBA. He became a Doctor of Philosophy at age 24.

The OCDN concluded its short report by describing Dr Oh as "a UN consultant, university lecturer, researcher, current affairs commentator, columnist and speaker".

Only a few years ago, nobody in Malaysia or Sabah knew who Dr Oh was. But today, he is one of the country's most sought after socio-political commentator especially among the Chinese Radio/TV programmes and newspapers.

He had also appeared in many seminars, forums and conferences in and outside Sabah either as panelist or paper presenter; including as Moderator during the DAP-organised Public Forum held in Kota Kinabalu on 16 September 2008. Among the spekaers during the event held at the Kian Kok Middle School was SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee and DAP adviser LimKit Siang. On 17 September 2008, SAPP officially left the BN.

Before he shot to fame, Dr Oh was closely associated with the SAPP. Following SAPP's departure from BN however, it is not known whether he is now associated with the Yong faction or Raymond Tan faction which remained in BN.

Dr Oh's sudden appointment as Pol Sec to the PM came as a pleasant surprise to Sabahans as this is the first time in Malaysia's 51-year history that a Sabahan is holding such post. Although Sabahans had been federal minisaters and deputy minisaters over the last few decades including in the PM's Department, Dr Oh's appointment raised eyebrows in view of the political clout that comes with the post.

A political secretary to the PM is seen as a very influential post as the holder literally walks among the corridors of power. Since the formation of Malaysia in 1963, many former Pol Secs to the PM had gone on to become Parliamentary Sec (a post abolished after the March 2008 election), then Deputy Minister and eventually Minister.

Dr Oh's appointment is also reminiscent of the appointment of Chinese lawyer Mathius Chang to a similar capacity by former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The senior lawyer-turned author retired together with Dr M a few years ago.

Dr Oh's appointment also came after new Home Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Tun Hussein appointed prominent Chinese social worker Datuk Michael Chong as Special Officer. Observers described the appointments of both Dr Oh and Chong as being in line with the new PM's "1 Malaysia" concept whereby no community will be left out. The BN lost heavily in Chinese areas in last year's general election.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trail of St Paul (Part 10)

More pics from Antakya (Antioch) on Pentecost Sunday, 31 May 2009.

 A group of Turkish youngsters 'lepaking' in front of a building on a lazy Sunday morning. Pic taken as we were walking from our hotel to the chapel; about 10 minutes' walk. Click to enlarge.

 Sabah pilgrims inside the Catholic church in Antakya. Click to enlarge.

Photo opportunities not to be missed out before and after the Mass. After all, it's not everyday that a Sabahan is inside a church in a foreign land where post-Jesus era Christianity began. Click to enlarge.

 More Sabah pilgrims inside Antioch church. Click to enlarge.
Rev. Fr. Dominique (standing) briefing us on the history of the Catholic church in Antioch as Rev. Fr. Fundes looks on before the Mass. Click to enlarge. 
Sr. Rita doing the 1st Reading on Pentecost Sunday. Click to enlarge.
Walking along the narrow street back to the bus. Click to enlarge.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trail of St Paul (Part 9)

More pics from Antakya (Antioch on Orontes, Hatay (formerly Alexanderette) province of Turkey. Taken on Day 2 (May 31 - Pentecost Sunday).

Titus' Tunnel at Seleucia Pierea near Antioch-on-Orontes (now Antakya). The tunnel was a tremendous canal dug to divert water from the Orontes River during St Paul's time. Considering that everything had to be done by hand at that time, it was quite an engineering feat. Seleucia Pierea was the port city of Antioch in ancient days from where St Paul set sail for his first missionary journey. Due to siltation, the port was actually a few miles further inland from the present coastline where we visited. So a little bit of imagination was required.
Entrance to St Peter' Church in Antioch, also known as St Peter's Grotto. Early meetings of the first Christians of Antioch were held in this cave church so as not to attract the attention of the Roman soldiers who were persecuting them. Inside the 'church' there was a hole for St Peter and his followers including St Paul to escape should the Roman soldiers come looking for them.See what the early Christians had to endure then? And yet nowadays it is not easy to ask young people to go to church! 
An aerial view of some old houses in Antakya/Antioch.
One of the displays at Hatay Museum, reputed for its large collection of mosaics, tombs, jewelry and other artifacts from around the Hatay Province which includes Antioch since ancient times.
The Bell Tower of the Catholic Church in Antioch.